So then, December has arrived like a fat uncle who has taken up residence on the sofa and is demanding booze. And mince pies. He’s knocked off his shoes, unbuttoned the top button of his trousers in anticipation of the Romanesque onslaught of feasting that is to follow in the next few weeks and has nicked your remote control and is insisting on watching “family” (and rarely has there been a more damning adjective) films on ITV. In short, he is a terrible guest and heaven forfend that the bastard stays for the full thirty one days.
Actually such fanciful similes belie a more straightforward truth. December is largely jolly, save for all the myriad shite lining shelves and screens depicting Christmas as an orgiastic celebration of the very worst kind of commercialism (not that there’s really a best one). I love my family and my friends; I like good wine and excellent food; I’d probably rob a bank for you if you paid me in really good stilton cheese, but all the rest of the nonsense (c.f. the current, vomit-inducing Marks and Spencer ad) I would happily pile into pandora’s box (not a euphemism) and lock away for eternity – if you’ll allow such wanton mixing of one’s cultural reference points.
In recent weeks all things Long Arm Films have been a little quiet. At least publicly. Although Social Media captain Nat fired off a pleasingly enigmatic tweet last week:
In fact it was so enigmatic I had to call her up to ask her what she was talking about. But it’s okay, Nat remains “on message” and when she told me that which I had forgotten I was keeping secret (does that work syntactically?) I was excited afresh and all the more so for having forgotten about it and then been reminded of it for a second time. So yes, we’re working on some stuff that we can’t talk about yet. But it is good. Or at least it will be. We hope.
Dan the Editor has been very busy in his edit bunker in posh end of Swansea and large swathes of High Tide are emerging, rough and battered like a newborn calf (although with less amniotic fluid) blinking at and mooing at the fragile light that seeps into the pen and throws the attending vet into sharp silhouette. Which is of course a frankly ridiculous way of saying that there’s some way to go but things are looking good. And not at all bovine. Apart from my brief cameo as “Doris”, udders akimbo, during the party scene.
What else? Oh yes, Mayor of London Boris Johnson has surprised no one by being an odious, fascistic toss-pot in a speech he made last week. I was so angry but such barefaced idiocy, such smug and dangerously ill-informed attempts fellate Right Wing voters that I seized the digital reigns of the Long Arm Twitter account and made this dazzling declaration:
That showed him. Amusingly we were tweeted back (is that the correct phrase?) by a Johnson PR monkey who’d obviously been given the almost divinely onorous task of replying to everyone on Twitter who’d called their master a dick that night. This tweet pointed us towards an article published elsewhere suggesting that BJ had been misquoted and misrepresented by an evil left-wing press. Which was of course utter nonsense in itself. Still it did allow me to add to my infrequently attended to list of the “world’s worst jobs” – to wit, the poor bastard charged with dashing around the internet with a digital mop and bucket in an attempt to stem the tide of political excreta deposited from the mouths of powerful idiots.
That was a diversion. Let’s get back to being festive. Jingle bells not jangly balls – a complaint for which you must seek medical help. Next weekend, some of my dearest friends and myself are gathering for our annual christmas dinner. This event has happened for over a decade now and represents the single occasion in the year when all of us are in the same room at the same time. There was a time, back at university when we’d spend most of every day together, writing, performing shows, drinking (a lot) and generally not working as hard at our studies as we should have done. Here is a photograph of some of us taken more years ago than I would care to divulge:
These days we see each other much less frequently and so our “Gentleman’s Christmas Dinner” has become one of the sacred, immovable dates in our year. Jimmy has been to a few over the years but although I am clearly the fresh-faced good-looking one in Long Arm Films, I am actually a few years older than my pal and so our friendship groups don’t really overlap. Plus he’s busy (so he says) and he’s in Swansea so this year he won’t be there. And so he’ll miss the four course meal cooked by me (see, all those many hours camped out in front of Masterchef are not a waste of time), he’ll miss the sight of eight ageing men drinking far too much wine and he’ll miss, and this will really smart, the annual quiz.
I bloody love a quiz. Years ago back in Devon we’d go to one in our local town in a pub called The Jolly Farmer. This was pre-smoking ban so the place was pretty disgusting, its air thick with fag smoke, its wooden floors paying potent testament to the decades of spilt beers and ciders that had seeped into its fibres, and once a week the landlord would host a general knowledge quiz. I can’t remember what our team name was but I am certain it didn’t match the punning brilliance and often downright filthy sobriquets of our rivals – “Norfolk in Chance” was one example I remember, as was the at least a little more highbrow “Les Quizerables” and I am pretty sure there was one, boastfully or otherwise, called “I Have a Lovely Vagina” which may have been just a ruse to get the cheapest of laughs as the landlord summarised the scores or, who knows, it just could have been a statement of fact. Although the team was comprised of a lone, male participant so the idea seems fanciful.
Many years later some friends and I, now in London, found a pub quiz that became so much of an obsession that we didn’t miss a single week in two years. Our team was called The Ploughmen, after our preferred menu choice and, due largely to our brilliant friend Chris who has been on Mastermind and Only Connect, we did very well. We developed a fierce rivalry with another team of never-miss-a-week-ers called “The Whirlybirds”. They hated us. We hated them. It was like Fight Club but with knowledge of the hits of Wizard rather than bare-knuckle barbarism. Week after week we traded obscure knowledge, one team edging the other out only for the reverse to happen the week after. Month after month this rivalry played out and intensified only for one day, after twenty four long months of battering each other with esoteric facting UNTIL (and in a moment of clunking bathos from a narrative perspective) the pub closed for refurbishment and reopened a month later as a terrible gastro abomination. In the words of the landlord / quizmaster and our supposed FRIEND the pub was now “more fine dining” and there was no place at the polished table and needlessly high stools for quiz. Shame. Shame on them.
Quiz lives on, mercifully, at the Gentleman’s Christmas Dinner and as a reward to you for making this far down a wilfully arcane addition to the blog canon, here is a WELL IT IS ALMOST CHRISTMAS SO LET’S HAVE AN ADVENT FILM QUIZ quiz.
ROUND ONE (of one) –
NOT VERY FAMOUS OPENING LINES FROM FILMS IN MY CUPBOARD.
Yes, we all know the LAST lines. But how about the first? I give you the line. You give me the film. One point per correct answer.
1 – I believe in America.
2 – Did you hear that? They’ve shut down the main reactor. We’ll be destroyed for sure.
3 – Officials at the Pacific Nuclear Research Facility have denied the rumour that a case of missing plutonium was in fact stolen from their vault two weeks ago.
4 – Alright Curly, enough’s enough. You can’t eat the venetian blinds; I had them installed on Wednesday.
5 – There’s an old joke. Uh, two elderly women are at a Catskills mountain resort, and one of ’em says: “Boy, the food at this place is really terrible.” The other one says, “Yeah, I know, and such … small portions.”
6 – Alright. I’m going to turn over the next card. Concentrate. I want you to tell me what you think it is
7 – I’m going for a cup of tea. Do you want one?
8 – Somebody asked me today, “Phil, if you could be anywhere in the world where would you like to be?
9- With the coming of the Second World War many eyes in imprisoned Europe turned hopefully or desperately towards the freedom of the Americas.
10 – How you doing Keaton?
And yes you could look them up on the internet but what would be the point? You’d only be cheating yourself and your soul would shrivel to the size of a walnut and then you’d spontaneously develop a nut allergy and your soul would cause you to go into anaphylactic shock and you’d have to epipen yourself but in the HEART like in Pulp Fiction. None of which sounds much fun. So, like just don’t cheat kids.
I will send a Long Arm Films badge to the first person to correctly name all ten in the comments box below proving you provide some sort of sworn affidavit that the answers have come from your brain not your iPhone.
Round Two will happen as soon as is likely.
And with that rather I wish you a happy advent.
Ending these things is harder than starting them, isn’t it?